John Livingston

Even the Devil Can Quote Scripture

Over the past four days on the award-winning Kevin Miller show on 580 AM on the radio—most recently the recipient of the coveted, well-known but little-described Livingston Award For Broadcast excellence, several call-in gentlemen have been less than kind in my opinion to other callers who profess without shame their Christian Faith. I was probably less than kind to one of them when I requested how he made his moral judgements and what was the basis of his political philosophy. The process by which people come to their decisions about all kinds of issues is of great interest to me.

My first professor of organic chemistry Dr. Howard Curry taught me a teaching method when I became his teaching assistant (TA) that I have always tried to deploy when I choose to engage any person in a discussion regarding morality, ethics or political philosophy—or chemistry. “Go backwards through the equations, “first instances or the predicate of the equation” and find out where the student got lost in the process”. Not only is that good reasoning, but it is good science. Try to understand where the other fellow’s opinion first diverged from your own and proceed from there. When I called out one of the callers—Mark, and asked for what were the bases of his opinions I was wrong in not first explaining my process to him.

Before I proceed let me say that I am in no way an expert or authority on ecclesiastical theological questions. I have no credentials as an apologetic. My primary sources are The Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In 2015 when Paul Ryan became speaker of the House, he made the statement: “My faith informs every aspect of my life”. Nobody in the media took offense at the statement. People like me were even inspired to know that we had a man of faith in such a high position—even though our political philosophies differed. Today the cacophony of progressive noise coming from all corners of the humanistic gnostic world against statements by our new Speaker of The House Micheal Johnson is deafening. His statement that “The Bible informs all his decisions in every aspect of his life” for some reason creates a state of panic and fear in the hearts of everyone from Liz Cheney and AOC, the mainstream media “experts” at CNN and MSNBC. What a difference 8 years make.

It is only fair to “Liberal Steve” and “Maverick-Mark” to state for them how I come to my decisions regarding not only moral and ethical issues, but hopefully “every aspect of my life”.

For me personally there is a process that has a discipline and a cadence to how I make decisions. This has helped me in my professional and personal life, though the results of my decisions with this process are certainly not full proof or even what I have wanted in every instance. For me I go through five stages, and I believe their order is important. For me these are my five-faith based moral pillars.

  1. Prayer
  2. Reading of Scripture and the Catechism.
  3. Tradition—Church tradition and Western and Natural Law teachings. I include in this not only the teachings of the Catholic Fathers, but also writings of C. S. Lewis, Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn, G. K. Chesterton and many others
  4. Life experience
  5. Emotion and intuition

I believe for most people the last two are the easiest and the most likely to be deployed. They are also the least likely to bring various factions together. The life experience of a Black person growing up in poverty in the United States is very different from someone like me that grew up in suburban middle-class America. Both experiences are different than a child growing up in The Gaza totalitarian police state governed by The PLO or Hamas whose lives of subsistence and conditions of dependency are every bit as bad and suppressive and spirit depleting as indenture hood or slavery. The life experiences mentioned above are all different but there are many cases where people with such disparate circumstances that have shared beliefs in God, can find common ground. And if there is no common ground based on religious beliefs, a respect for the process that another person goes through for coming to their conclusions and finding solutions to problems can go a long way toward finding comity—social, political, and even legal.

Over the past two days “Maverick Mark” made two statements that fellow Christians are more than very familiar with. The first was a comment about the Christian Church and slavery. I simply informed him of Paul’s letter to the Colossians and to Philemon advising the release of Philomon’s slave Onesies.

I would also refer him to Papal encyclicals written in 1432—by Pope Eugen, 50 years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, against slavery and Encyclicals written by Pope Leo XIII, Pius XI, and John Paul II that renounced slavery, the exploitation of labor and supported strongly Natural Law ideas of liberty and capitalism.

The second issue regards the idea that if Jesus didn’t preach against something, it must be OK. It is a typical “straw man argument” where “the Maverik” asks us to except his predicate and therefore his conclusion. But as any man of reason knows the absence of evidence doesn’t mean the absence of evidence—Perry Mason 1957—My legal theories come from watching reruns of Perry Mason.

What is true is that “even the devil can quote scripture”—Merchant of Venice. Without context a simple line of scripture is meaningless.

“The Mav” went on to ask another question—which Bible is one going to use?—they are all different! ( I use several along with commentaries when I study the Bible) The implication in the question is that Jesus made the teachings of the Old Testament and The Law irrelevant and non-operative, which to me begged the question—does “the Mav” really understand the relationship and relevance of the Old and New Covenants and how they stand upon each other and are both needed to understand each other.


So below I answer “The Mav’s” assertion with several versions from several Bibles. I think anyone can get the message.

New International Version
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

New Living Translation
“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.

English Standard Version
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Berean Standard Bible
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.

Berean Literal Bible
Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish, but to fulfill.

King James Bible
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

New King James Version
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

New American Standard Bible
“Do not presume that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.

NASB 1995
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

NASB 1977
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.

Legacy Standard Bible
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

Amplified Bible
Jesus did not refute the law, He fulfilled it

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